How to sell yourself and your ideas

How to sell yourself and your ideas

A Lesson by DenWrites

Sometimes ideas are not that good. But sometimes, you have a really great idea, but it doesn’t get the financing or the attention that it deserves.


How to sell yourself and your ideas, and win over any audience.

Sometimes ideas are not that good. But sometimes, you have a really great idea, but it doesn’t get the financing or the attention that it deserves.

Why does this happen?

Mediocre ideas pitched well often beat out great ideas pitched poorly.


Five techniques that apply for a wide variety of ideas:

Start by stepping back, write your pitch to be spoken, let the audience be the judge, sell yourself as well as your idea and embrace pitching early in the development process.


What is?

·         Pitch - verbally transferring information in order to get someone to act.

·         Decision maker - the person who’s listening to that pitch. And the decision is whether or not they’re going to support your idea in some way.

·         Good in a room - someone who pitches well to decision makers.

o   A term originated from Hollywood; agents use it to describe their successful, charismatic actors.

First technique: Start by stepping back

·         When developing a pitch => Where/when to start: At the beginning by starting with an opening statement.

·         Why? Makes it easy for them to understand your idea.

·         Provide the needed background information for any person to understand.

·         Contextualize the project within that company's goals.

·         Bring everybody up to speed so you don’t lose their audience.

·         Start by stepping back. Assess what’s happening. The audience’s expectations. Assess their level of expertise.


Remember their hearing your idea for the first time and context lives in the mind of the listener.


Second technique: Write your pitch to be spoken

·         What looks good on the page is very different than what sounds good in the air.

·         Why? Because it’s the pace that listeners can absorb information.

·         In a verbal pitch, the listener does not have the level of control.

o   Can’t rewind, can’t figure out those sections that are confusing to them, can’t control the pace of the information

·         Need to be very careful about the level of detail that you share

·         To improve your pitch, shorten your sentences

·         You want your sentences to be short, crisp, and direct.


If the information looks choppy and incomplete on the page, it’s fine as long as it sounds verbally better.



Third technique: Let the audience be the judge

·         Avoid telling the decision maker what to think or how to feel

o   Examples: “You’re going to love this!” “I have an amazing idea for you.” “This project could be a game changer.” “This idea will revolutionize the industry.”

Two main problems:

1.      High-level decision makers hear these common phrases that they make you blend in, not stand out. (You are expected to be a fan of your own work. But you don’t need to say it.)

2.      Most decision makers, don’t want to be told how to think or feel, and they resent it if you do.

·         Eliminate these sentences from your pitch

·         Find third-party validation who has credibility with that decision maker


Find credible experts and if they support your ideas, share their opinion, not yours.


Fourth technique: Sell yourself as well as your idea

·         Decision makers are not just investing in your idea, they are investing in you and your ability to bring those ideas to life.

·         Lack of emphasis on the unique qualifications of the person/people behind the pitch

o   Will be changes, obstacles, issues & are you uniquely qualified to be able to solve them?

Be prepared to answer the main questions when they are evaluating an idea/pitch:

1.      Asking about the project: “What is this?”, “What does it cost?”, “Who is this for?”, “What’s the timeline?” => Use research/data/statistics & answer them directly.

2.      Relates to you and your team: “How did you come up with this idea?” => Do not describe “the eureka” moment, rather answer how/why you came up with this idea, what unique expertise, or experience, do you have that allowed you to see this opportunity?

·         Common questions: “What are your goals?”, “What made you interested in this idea in the first place?”, and “What are some challenges that you are looking forward to?” => Pretend that the decision maker asked you, “Do you have a story that exemplifies your expertise?”, “How does your personal philosophy relate to our companies goals?”, “Why should I trust you?”

o   It’s an opportunity for you to sell yourself and your unique expertise: Assess how you are different from the other people who do a similar job that you do. Think about some stories that you could share that exemplify your expertise.


Figure out why you are the best person to bring your idea to life, and then you can sell yourself as well as you sell your idea.


Fifth technique: Embrace pitching early in the development process

·         Definition of development - the process by which you take an initial idea and convert it into concrete plans that can be funded or implemented.

·         Most think pitching is at the end of the development process, after working out your idea and getting ready to sell it.

o   Don’t start working on their pitch until, before their meeting

·         Problem when pitching an idea: Core problems are visible to your idea.

o   It’s too late to fix the pitch when there are some serious problems with your idea.

·         Bring the pitching much earlier up into the development of your idea.

·         Start with your idea that is worth considerable time and energy

1.      Write a short pitch (1-2 sentence encapsulation of that idea).

a.       The goal is to assess whether your idea is as good as you think it is and if it needs work, where you can improve it.

2.      Test it out on your friends/colleagues.

a.       When sharing your short pitch, you’re looking for their feedback: Where did they nod or smile? Where did they frown? What questions did they ask you? What question did they ask you first?

b.      When you get feedback from the short pitch: rework, and try again.

c.       When your short pitch enables someone to act, you’re on the right track

d.      The goal is to share your pitch in such a way with a decision maker that they are motivated to act.


Whether you should take your short pitch and then continue developing the idea, is once you have the sense that your friends or colleagues want to support and help your idea, that then you know that you’re headed in the right direction.



“Now decision-makers want you to succeed. They often say no, almost always say no. But they really want to say yes. They want you to come in with a great idea. They are really hoping, really hoping that you have the answer, that you have this compelling short pitch. That you have a great complete pitch that motivates them to act. They want to be thrilled by your ideas. And they want to be thrilled by you.” - Stephanie Palmer


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Added on December 23, 2018
Last Updated on December 23, 2018

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Chicago, IL

22 novice writer